About Margaret Reilly
Margaret Shelby (June 16, 1900 – December 21, 1939) was an American stage and motion picture actress, daughter of actress Charlotte Shelby, older sister of silent film star Mary Miles Minter and one of many public figures noted in the scandals which followed the murder of William Desmond Taylor in 1922.
Born as Margaret Reilly (and later also known as Alma M. Fillmore), Shelby was a successful child actress who began working professionally at a very early age. Her first Broadway appearance was in Grace Livingston Furniss's play, The Fibber. In 1916 Shelby and her sister, Mary Miles Minter, both in their teens, acted together on film in director James Kirkwood's picture Faith.
Although she was seen as pretty and noted for having some talent as an actress her film career was mostly limited to supporting roles in some of her sister's films. By 1916 both sisters were quite famous. That same year, the sisters established a widely publicized "hotel" for stray dogs on the ample grounds of their Santa Barbara, California home.
Marriages, family disputes and death
Her sister left the film industry in 1924 and Shelby took small bit parts in sundry productions. She was briefly married to Hugh Fillmore, a grandson of President Millard Fillmore, but they divorced in 1927. With the coming of talkies in the late 1920s her career ended. By the late 1930s Shelby was suffering from both alcoholism and clinical depression. In March 1937 she eloped to Yuma, Arizona with Emmett J. Flynn but this marriage was annulled a month later (April 27, 1937) and Flynn died the following June.
On June 5, 1937 Shelby filed a lawsuit against her mother alleging financial mismanagement, claiming Shelby had stolen $48,750 (roughly almost $2 million in 2007 inflation-adjusted terms) from a safety deposit box in a Los Angeles, California bank. A jury awarded her $20,000. On September 13, 1938, she publicly accused her mother of having killed William Desmond Taylor in 1922. (Taylor may have had a romance with her sister Mary, beginning in 1919.)
Margaret Shelby died of alcohol related illness in 1939, aged 39.